The Wheel of Time, Amazon's popular new fantasy series, used fake names during the audition process to maintain secrecy. The show is based on a series of books of the same name by author Robert Jordan, the first of which was published back in 1990. The show follows Moiraine, a powerful magic-user, as she takes a group of young people under her wing and begins a globe-spanning journey with the hopes of discovering which of them is the Dragon Reborn, an individual prophesized to either save the world or destroy it.
The series has received generally positive reviews so far, with audiences and critics praising its worldbuilding and its more accessible approach to high fantasy. There are 14 books in The Wheel of Time series, meaning the show has a lot of characters to set up and backstory to establish, and some critics have criticized the first few episodes for their heavy exposition and slow-moving plotting. The books have sold over 90 million copies worldwide, putting them on par with George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire in terms of their popularity. The series stars Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney, Madeleine Madden, Zoë Robins, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, and Barney Harris.
In a new interview with AV Club, Rutherford reveals just how secretive the show had to be during pre-production to ensure that no surprises were spoiled for the show's millions of fans. During the audition process, he explains, the names of the characters were changed so that even the actors auditioning didn't know who they were actually reading for. Rutherford's character's name in the series is Perrin, but during the audition process, he was under the impression he was reading for a character named Peter. Check out Rutherford's full comment below:
It’s been secretive right from the beginning. Even the audition process was. I was auditioning for a guy called Peter and [Josha was] auditioning for Ridhan, so all the names were changed... I remember [showrunner] Rafe [Judkins] saying when he was creating the show that people were going through his bins looking for scripts and stuff like that. So we realized then that the fans are extremely passionate. We have to stay mum about some things because we don’t want any spoilers.
Although the books have been out for years at this point, it seems The Wheel of Time fan base is just as passionate as ever. As has been proven with shows like Game of Thrones and, more recently, The Witcher, fantasy series based on books often come with large, devoted fan bases that care deeply about how their favorite characters and storylines are treated by showrunners. Considering a host of actors were likely brought in to audition for The Wheel of Time's many main characters, it makes sense that showrunner Rafe Judkins would want to preserve secrecy for as long as possible and prevent details from leaking early.
Ultimately, it seems like the secrecy surrounding The Wheel of Time has paid off. Only three episodes have been released so far and, while fans of books might have a general idea of where things are going, the direction for the remainder of the season is very much up in the air. Wheel of Time seems to be pleasing fans of the books so far, despite some deviations from the source material, and it will likely continue its divergences from the books in future episodes in order to keep the surprises coming for both new and old fans alike.
Source: AV Club